First Advisor

Karen Gibson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban Studies (M.U.S.)


Urban Studies and Planning




Homeless women -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Single women -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Prostitutes -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Low-income single mothers -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Homeless women -- History -- 20th century



Physical Description

132 leaves ; 28 cm.


This purpose of this study is to incorporate women into the history of homelessness. Women's experience is missing from the narrative of industrial era homelessness, which causes researchers to make a distinction between the modem day homeless population and its predecessors. This distinction prevents researchers from examining the long term structural causes of homelessness and analyzing the role homelessness plays in U.S. society. This study explores the population characteristics and living conditions of three groups of women who were considered homeless during the early decades of the twentieth century in Portland. These groups include single working women who lived away from their family, prostitutes, and single mothers. This study also traces the development of charitable institutions and social welfare programs that arose to meet the needs of homeless women during this era and examines the relationships between homeless women and the reformers and charities that took up their cause. The inclusion of women's experience into the history of early twentieth century homelessness necessitates a broadened definition of the homeless phenomenon. Women's homelessness during this era was both defined and determined by their family situation. Women who lived outside of the patriarchal family were considered homeless and suffered economic hardship because of their non-traditional living arrangements. Incorporating an analysis of home back into homelessness will result in non-gendered policy implications. Labor market remedies and affordable housing solutions are still needed, but changes to the structure of the household economy are also called for. The unpaid labor women traditionally perform must be socially and economically valued and the sexual division of labor within the home needs to be challenged.


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Portland State University. Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning

Persistent Identifier